by francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear francy: Mother is home from a 8 day hospital stay – then she was in the care facility for 20 days. She was still too weak to go to her home so I have her here in our guest bedroom. I am not a nurse, I’m a crossing guard at our local school and I have no idea what to do now?
Well you have just joined the club of many children and spouses that are suddenly faced with care giving and no prior experience to guide them. First, try to stay calm and just know that a lot of things will hit you at once so you need to really stay organized and write things down as you go to make it easier. Keep a spiral notebook for your mom’s care and that will be your bible in the days ahead. I have written a how to book that will help you with the care giving but here is a list of things to do just to get started:
AFTER HOSPITAL CARE TIPS:
- Ask questions, the care facility will help you. Ask them if medicare will send in a home care nurse? This in home help is so wonderful. It will be someone to ask questions and to follow their lead with care ideas. Most cities have a few care companies that you can call and ask them if their services are covered with medicare and your mom’s insurance. Ask them what services they have for you and then pick what ever you can afford. Min. have a bath lady once a week, that gives you a break and keeps your mom clean. Your mom will be weak and hard to bath at first- so you will appreciate this service more than you know.
- Call the doctor’s office and “make” them talk to you. Ask them what state your mother is in? Ask them to review her needs and how long it will take to get her back to independence, or if she ever will be able to live on her own again? You need to know this. If you are going to take care of her for a month or for years, you need to know. You do not want to have your mother’s things in an apartment for months with rent being paid, if she will never return to the apartment. That money could be used with you to care for her.
- Get your mom’s health care directive and power of attorney in place so you can help her make decisions on her health. Plus you can pay her bills and care for her money in her time of confusion. You can get her home ready for sale or her apartment contract adjusted if she has to leave her residence permanently. You can then make a decision for her to be in a long term care facility, retirement community, etc. This is the legal part that has to be done so do not put it off. It may seem like caring for her is just nursing stuff, but it is not…it is all the business of her life that will need help. I have all of the business info in my workbook for you.
- Ask for help, if your mom does not have any money and you have very little yourself, get the state to come in and give you advice on how they could help her. She may be able to go on state care or Veterans care and get home help. That way she could return home sooner, or you could take a class and become the legal caregiver and the state would pay you to care for her. You will not know until you call Human Services for Elders and find out what is what in your local area.
- Make things easy for yourself; keep her room easy to walk around, remove small rugs and extra furniture. That way you’re able to move around with wheelchairs and walkers. You can set up a commode and a table for her medications and other care items.
- Get your mother tucked in when you leave the house. Get her a cell phone added onto your account and have her practice pressing a button that will call you. Make sure she goes to the toilet, is fed and has her meds before you leave the house. Leave her with a small lunch cooler with a protein drink, yogurt and water inside for her to have by her chair. Move her commode into the sitting room she will be using so her movements are limited.
- Ask family or neighbors to come and check on her when you are gone. Think in your mind about what could happen while you are gone and then cover all the basis. If you take time off from work, then know for how long. Maybe your mom will only need a good two weeks of care before she is up and moving around on her own. But if it is longer, then what will you do? No matter how hard it is, you have to have a couple of plans of actions so you are not losing your job and income just to help your mother. Make calls, get a couple of plans in place and find people to help you.
- Home nursing may not be your experience but it is a lot like caring for a young child. Keep things easy, very clean, and be solid on giving her medications and good food on time. She will have to move to be independent, so she needs to be walking with your help. Exercise, eating, medications on time…that is what will start to build her up again.
- Keep kids and long visits out of your mother’s life while she is trying to heal. You do not want her to get a cold or be so tired she gets weaker. Be strong with visits; no kids – 20 minutes- no smoking -only lite conversation-no one sick. Keep it light and happy or no visits at all!
- Keep yourself eating and sleep even if it’s naps in the afternoon. Running to care for someone and adding that to your already busy life is very hard. So, say NO to everything else but the basics in your life and stick to it. Take one of those protein drinks and have it at lunch time for yourself, as well as your mother. Keep yourself strong – you will be living for two people for a while.
- Baby monitor, intercom, or remote door bell system, they will all serve you well so you know when your mother needs immediate care.
- Your mother may have a special diet to follow, but if not think easy. Think easy to chew, swallow, and digest with her food. Make soups in your crockpot & scrambled eggs before you leave for work. Give her jello, yogurt, puddings and fruit with cottage cheese. Soft foods and easy to digest foods. Her bowels will be off with all the medications and odd foods she has been having. If she has a strange food craving say NO if you feel it will be unwise, or give her a very small amount. No raw veggies or salads those are hard for her to process. Good fruit juices and smoothies are the ticket at first. Watch the dairy products do not over do those and if she is a coffee girl, get her some decaf and keep it an afternoon treat – once a day. She has to have water, so put a little fruit juice in her water so she will drink more than a few sips.
- Know and understand her drugs. What is this for, is it for long term or just for her recovery? Ask how to add stool softeners or yogurt for help with the side effects of antibiotics. Go over to the drug store with her medications and they will review them for you and you can write it down and get a weekly pill container that has morning and nite pills. This will make pill time easier.
- Remember that open wounds mean extra care, it could turn into a disaster MRSA probem. So, learn how to stay so clean you are squeaky. Wash your hands each time you enter and leave your mother’s care area. Use bleach wipes to go over all surfaces in care area. Keep the care products on a very clean surface so everything stays sterile. Keep the bathroom she is going to use clean to the point of exhaustion. Use a good cleaning solution like a bleach mixture and wipe off counters, toilets, bath, floor and keep it clean, clean, clean.
- Wash her clothing separately and in hot water with oxygen cleaner as well as soap. Do not throw her clothing on the floor, put the soiled clothes in a hamper or plastic bag to ready for wash. Do her wash at least twice a week – even if it’s a small wash. Make sure your things and her’s do not touch. You are now Miss Klean
- If she is not walking get her up. She can hold on to her walker and you can follow with the wheelchair behind her. Or you can get a waist band that helps the senior stand and walk by you putting it around their waste and then holding on to it, to give them extra steady help. Have her do the PBS- Sit and Stretch. It’s an easy exercise program that will help anyone recover muscles. You can get the program’s DVD’s at your local library.
- Swallowing, talking, transition, walking problems? Those need a physical therapy person trained in that area. Ask the doctor and he will write an Rx and those folks can come in to the home or you go to them. It will make a huge difference. They will show you how to help your mom. Good stuff, therapy sessions!
- If your mom is really weak and unable to stand without help. You need to learn how to transfer her from sitting to standing, to walking position. Ask for help, a nurse or therapist will instruct you how to do that without hurting your back. It is amazing how easy it can be if you know how. If your mother takes a fall, do not try to pick her up. Call 911 and tell them you need assistance with a fall and the fire department will send EMS services to transfer her and check to make sure she does not need hospital services.
- Are you ready if your mother is at the end of her life? Have you talked about her wishes and her health care wishes, and her funeral wishes? Can you sit down and have that talk? If not, ask a chaplain to come and ask her for you. Get it done, if she recovers you can file the information away for a future time.
- If you understand what is happening with your mother, what is wrong with her, what part of her mind or body is effected by her condition – you will be able to do research on the Internet and ask the doctor questions to get help with good care. Be strong with your voice and your questions. Understanding what your mother needs is number one, from there you, your family, your friends, your care giving professional can all work together to help put humpty dumpty back together again. If you do not ask, or demand answers you will suffer as much if not more than your mother during the recovery. Giving care is not hard, if you know what to expect – it is the unknown that bothers all of us, so ask questions and learn as much as you can when you are around any professional.
You are doing a service of love, thank you. Most of us will be there at one time or another. It is lonely and I would like to be here for you as you move through the care of your senior. Sharing your fears, frustrations, and hurt feelings will allow you to recover and give your mother good care and positive energy with your love.
Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.
I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy
PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.